Ginebra guns for semis sweep vs SMB
BY RICHARD DY
The Manila Times
SENSING blood, defending champion Barangay Ginebra will be shooting for no less than a sweep against sister team San Miguel Beer when both squads collide in Game Three of their 202223 PBA Governors’ Cup bestOF-fiVE SEMIfiNAL SERIES TODAY, MARCH 29, AT THE Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. The Gin Kings took the first two games behind a strong start as well as composure every time the Beermen tried to mount a comeback from big deficits. With the team holding a commanding 2-0 series lead, Ginebra guns for a rare sweep and advance to the championship round with a win in their 5:45 p.m. encounter. Ginebra took Game One 121112 before following that up with a 121-103 rough-housing of San Miguel in Game Two. Coach Tim Cone said getting better each game is always the key to ensure the team doesn’t fall to a false sense of security or thinking that they are invincible. “The bottom line is we always talk about how we wanna grow within the series. We wanna get better and better on what we do and how we do it,” said Cone, whose team’s massive 18-point victory in Game Two was mainly due to its unselfish game that saw the Gin Kings register 35 assists. The American mentor said everyone in the team would agree in unison that the unselfish play always starts with reigning league Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson. “I think if you talk to everybody in our team, it starts with this guy,” Cone said, referring to Thompson, who issued 11 assists in Game Two. “The willingness to give up the ball starts with him. With him doing that all the time, it becomes infectious for the whole team.” The 29-year-old Thompson is averaging a near triple-double output of 18 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists in the first two games of the series, anchoring the Gin Kings’ superb offense despite playing without veterans Japeth Aguilar (knee injury) and LA Tenorio (stage 3 colon cancer). But then again, if there’s any team capable of coming back from a 0-2 series deficit, it’s San Miguel. The league’s winningest franchise in league history can always go back to the 2016 Philippine Cup Finals for inspiration when the Beermen, then mentored by coach Leo Austria, bounced back after going down 0-3 and won four straight games en route to stealing the championship in historic fashion. At 0-2, the Beermen, now under coach Jorge Gallent, will try not to think too far ahead and will focus on taking Game Three despite playing without injured starting slotman June Mar Fajardo. Meanwhile, top seed TNT is looking to bounce back following its 124-117 overtime loss to gritty Meralco last Sunday. The series is currently tied at one game apiece since the Tropang Giga took Game One by a mile, 110-80. Both squads take on each other at 3 p.m. Meralco coach Norman Black said nothing comes easy playing against a stacked-up TNT team, which lost for just the second time in the season-ending conference. “We’re playing the number one seeded team so every game will be tough for us,” said the one-time PBA Grand slam coach, whose son Aaron Black led the Bolts’ Game Two victory with 28 points and a career-high 10 assists. “Nothing’s gonna be easy. If you take a look at their lineup, they (Tropang Giga) are loaded so every game is gonna be competitive because even if we have a slight lead of eight or 10 points, they can easily erase that because they probably are the best three-point shooting team in the league. They can do it from long range,” explained Black, referring to TNT’s top gunners Roger Pogoy, Mikey Williams and veteran Jayson Castro.